Not Content to Be God

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For your sake God was not content
to be God but willed to become man;
for you He emptied Himself that
you may be exalted.

–Karl Barth

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Published in: on 12/22/2016 at 21:53  Leave a Comment  
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Deity Downsized

jesus-in-the-mangerA lowly Babe lies in the lowly cradle of a lowly town, the offspring of a lowly mother. Look again. That child is the eternal “I AM.” He whose Deity never had birth, is born “the woman’s Seed.” He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. He, who never began to be, as God, here begins to be, as man. And can it be, that the great “I AM THAT I AM” shrinks into our flesh, and is little upon our earth, as one newborn of yesterday? It is so. The Lord promised it. Prophets foretold it. Types prefigured it. An angel announces it. Heaven rings with rapture at it. Faith sees it. The redeemed rejoice in it.

–Henry Law

The Weakness of the Almighty

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He was created of
a mother whom He created.
He was carried by hands that He formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy,
He, the Word, without whom all
human eloquence is mute.

–St. Augustine

Published in: on 12/16/2016 at 21:35  Leave a Comment  
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The Scandalous God

manger-baby-copy-2The incarnation is a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers… Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.
         –Frederick Buechner

Sublime Paradox

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The Self-Existent comes into being,
the Uncreated is created,
that which cannot be contained
is contained.

–Gregory of Nazianzus

The Unscripted God

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In the place least expected,
in the way least expected,
under conditions least expected,
God shows up.

Unpredictable, unimaginable,
incomprehensible.
Divinity and humanity
in one bundle.

Splendor in a stable
Divinity in diapers
Majesty in a manger
This is our God.

The Central Miracle

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The central miracle asserted
by Christians is the Incarnation.
They say that God became Man.

–C. S. Lewis

Goodness Came Among Us

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If, so to say,
the Idea of the Good
has actually entered
the room and spoken,
we have to stop
our former discussion
and listen.

–Lesslie Newbigin

When Holiness Came Down

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THE BIGGEST AND MOST DECISIVE EVENT that has ever happened or can happen on this planet took place. The Incarnate Creator visited our world—and we rightly sing: “O, Holy Night.” His entrance into time made that night, and in a sense every night, holy. His incursion into the human race underscores the sacredness of every human life. His presence in our world turned a stable into a holy place, and since He walked the soil and breathed the air of our planet, it too has become a holy place. He labored as a carpenter, making work a holy vocation. He finally died on a cross—and transformed that instrument of the curse into something holy.

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When He comes into our lives He fulfills the original design that we should be holy and without blame before Him. And when He finishes doing what He is going to do all things in heaven and earth will be reconciled to God and goodness. He will make every molecule in the universe vibrate in delightful harmony with his holiness. In Christ all things return to wholeness and happiness.

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This is cosmic news—the Good News that will make every planet, every cell, every thing dance with joy at the wonder of it.

Holy moly.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Infinitely Greater

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Within our grasp

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Invisible in His own nature
[God] became visible in ours.
Beyond our grasp,
He chose to come within our grasp.

–Leo the Great

Holy ground

Following Jesus
Incarnation means
that all ground is
holy ground because
God not only made it
but walked on it, ate
and slept and worked
and died on it.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 12/11/2015 at 21:09  Leave a Comment  
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Not a code or an idea

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If the Word had become printer’s ink, it would have become a code. If the Word had become an idea, it would have been a philosophy. But the Word became flesh and therefore became a gospel—good news.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Way to Power and Poise

When God was made like man

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‘Twas much, that man
was made like God before,
But, that God should be made
like man, much more.

–Dr. John Donne,
Holy Sonnets (no. XV)

Image: http://www.gerrit-van-honthorst.org/

The power of weakness

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The omnipotence of God

is shown in the fact
that he can assume
the form of human
impotence and
can triumph
in this form.

–Karl Barth

 

The transforming event

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We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling;  and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon…” Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This interminable soap opera going from century to century . . . from era to era, whose old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not.

 Was it to provide a location
for so repetitive and ribald a performance
that the universe was created
and man came into existence?

I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides would be right. The most we can hope for from life is some passing amusement, some gratification of our senses and death. But it’s not all.

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Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime drama of the Incarnation…

–Malcolm Muggeridge
The True Crisis of Our Time

Image: Thomas Cole (1836)

When God comes in

8fec65aa copyLord, come into my heart. It’s hard for me to get the door open very far, but if at the Incarnation you managed to squeeze into an embryo, perhaps you could make it into my heart too—even if I only manage to crack it open a bit.

Sorry about the clutter inside. There are things that shouldn’t be here, but come to think of it, the first place you came to wasn’t exactly a clean scrubbed hospital room—it was a barn. That being the case, perhaps you would venture to enter my heart too.

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I have been told that sin is something you do not look upon or come close to. However, if a bad smelling cow shed was your place of your birth, there’s probably no place you wouldn’t come if invited. That’s a relief.

As a matter of fact, you seem to make a point of coming to where things are not as they should be. You walked and talked and ate with fallen, failing people; it appears that sin doesn’t keep you away.

And interestingly, when you come, sin decides it’s time to leave. It flees like darkness before the light. It melts like wax on a candle.

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Thanks for coming into my heart. I know there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to go, but because you are here, I have a feeling it’s not going to stick around for long.

And not only that, but your presence causes everything that is wholesome and true and lovely to flourish and grow. When you are around goodness goes viral.

It makes me wonder why anyone would ever keep you out.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Only one hope

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There is
no hope at all
except for
the hope of the
incarnation.

-St. Augustine

Published in: on 12/25/2014 at 4:42  Leave a Comment  
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The Great Divide

The most important verse in Scripture is “And the word became
flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father . . .”

christ_rembrandt_1This verse—“The Word became flesh”—is the Great Divide. In all other religions it is Word became word—a philosophy, a moralism, a system, a technique, but for all time and all men everywhere, “the Word became flesh”—the Idea became Fact.

Then I got hold of this difference (between all world religions and Christianity) in all other religions it is the Word become word, but only in Jesus Christ, did the Word become flesh. Then (and only then) Everything fell into its place. I had the Key, and this Key fitted everything in East and West . . . Religions are man’s search for God. The gospel is God’s search for man. Therefore, there are many religions, but only one gospel.

–E. Stanley Jones

Painting: “Head of Christ”
Rembrandt van Rijn

He will not be without us

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The Maker
of heaven
and earth in His
overflowing love
will not be
without us.
He’s freely
come to us
in Jesus.

–T. F. Torrance

 

Image: “Nativity” by 
Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre

 

When the singing began

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The song of the angels
to sighing humanity
is the beginning
of the infinite mystery
of the Incarnate God.
From this
all light is streaming,
all songs are coming,
all hope is flaming.

–G. Campbell Morgan
(1863–1945)

Photo credit:
The Albin Polasek Museum

Debunking the myths

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Men forsook God, and made carved images of men. Since therefore an image of man was falsely worshipped as God, God became truly Man, that the falsehood might be done away.

–Cyril of Jerusalem
(313—386)

Art: Rembrandt

Dreams come true

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The place that
the shepherds found
was not an academy
or an abstract republic,
it was not a place of myths . . .
explained or explained away.
It was a place of dreams
come true.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

He became one of us

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God has not kept himself immaculately sterilized in some hermetically sealed Heaven. He is not some huge Ego stubborning clinging to his distant invulnerable Majesty, refusing to give an inch. No, he became one of us literally sweating, thirsting, suffering—even to the point of being loaded down with our sins, even to the point of dying.

–Mike Mason

The humility of God

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By far the most significant event in the whole course of human history will be celebrated, with or without understanding, at the end of this season of Advent… What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God, and no amount of familiarity with the trappings of Christmas should ever blind us to its quiet but explosive significance…

God’s insertion of himself
into human history came about
with an almost frightening
quietness and humility.

…As millions will testify, he will come once again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any heart which is ready to receive him.

–J. B. Phillips
(1906-1982)

Artwork: Rembrandt

When Love stooped

the-birth-fo-jesus-by-carl-heinrich-blochLove that goes upward, from
the heart of man to God, is adoration. Love that goes outward, from one heart to another, is affection. But love that stoops is grace and God stooped to us. This is the most stupendous fact of the universe. It reveals to us that our God is love.

–Donald Grey Barnhouse

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Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch

Not following a code

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It is not said in the Book,
“The Word became printer’s ink,”
but it is said,
“The Word became flesh.”
Had the Word become printer’s ink,
we should have followed a code.
Instead our code is a Character.
We follow a living mind
instead of a fixed letter.

–E. Stanley Jones
(1884 – 1973)

The shocking affirmation

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Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 12/27/2013 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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Crossing the Chasm

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When we did not want God, God wanted us. When we would not come to God, he came to us. When we resisted him, he plotted to win us. When we could not cross the chasm that separates creation from deity, God decided to cross it and become one of us. He would not give up his deity, rather, he would unite divinity and humanity in a single person so that God and humans would really meet and become one.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

When God drew near

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On a wintry night
in an obscure cave,
the infant Jesus was
a humble, naked,
helpless God who
allowed us to get
close to him.

–Brennan Manning

Image: Michael Dudash

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